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Australia Calls on African Countries to Impose Sanctions on Zimbabwe

Adding his voice to the chorus of international censure of Zimbabwe in the wake of the beatings allegedly administered to Movement for Democratic Change founder Morgan Tsvangirai, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer of Australia said Thursday that African countries should impose sanctions on Harare to force democratic reforms.

Downer singled out South Africa for particular criticism, saying that President Thabo Mbeki had failed to put real pressure on President Robert Mugabe for reform. He said South Africa has the most leverage in Harare and so must be more active.

At the United Nations, South Africa’s permanent representative said the current crisis in Zimbabwe does not warrant Security Council handling. Dumisani Kumalo told the South African Broadcasting Corporation that while officials in Pretoria “truly regret" the latest crisis in Zimbabwe, "it's not a matter that belongs to the Security Council."

South Africa currently holds the Security Council's rotating presidency.

Diplomatic sources said other Security Council members are still trying to raise issues of human rights and political violence in connection with Zimbabwe, however.

Zimbabwe's own permanent representative to the United Nations, Boniface Chidyausiku, could not be reached for comment.

Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned for perspective to executive director Farai Maguwu of Zimbabwe's Civic Alliance on Democracy and Governance, who said he found South Africa's position at the U.N. disturbing.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...